Information and Resources for Teens with Mental Illness

It’s very common for a teen to have symptoms of a psychological disorder and not realize that they have one. They might be experiencing a low mood, irritability, mood swings, and other symptoms and feel that it’s all just a part of being a teenager. This type of thinking is also true for parents. They might recognize that their teens are not doing so well from time to time but blow it off as typical for adolescence. It’s also true that some warning signs of mental illness are not so obvious.

However, there are certain experiences, especially when they are persistent, can point to a psychological disorder. For instance, the following symptoms can point to depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses, especially if these symptoms continue to be present:

  • irritability
  • anger
  • social withdrawal
  • major changes in eating habits
  • major changes in sleeping habits
  • frequent bodily pains or headaches

When a teen experiences a mental illness and it goes untreated, he or she may experience suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, drop in school performance, drug use or drinking, absenteeism, frequent conflicts with friends and family, as well as isolation. In the worst case scenario, a teen might even lose their life to suicide, overdose, or to risky behavior as a result of drug use.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to both teens and parents who suspect that there is something wrong. Getting help can lead to getting adequately assessed which in turn can lead to the proper treatment. Below are a list of resources that teens can turn to when they need it:

TeenSource is a local resource for California teens. Although teens from anywhere in the country can access this resource, the site is administered by the California Family Health Council. It provides information on healthy and responsible sexual lifestyles. The site also a YouTube Channel with testimonials by teens and celebrities about their thoughts on pregnancy, sexuality, and life goals.

It Gets Better.Org is a national resource for gay, bisexual, and transgendered teens. There teen can find videos of other youth with encouraging messages about making it through the difficult teen years, especially when faced with harassment and bullying because of their sexual orientation. The project has over 10,000 user-created videos.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the lives of children, teens, and adults with mental illness. Despite the fact that 60 million Americans experience a mental illness, society continues to carry a stigma towards anything that isn’t “normal”. Those who are depressed, anxious, or emotionally unstable are often judged in our society. For that reason, NAMI works to provide the resources that people with mental illnesses need to live healthy lives despite the obstacles they face.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Adolescents (or anyone) in suicidal crisis or emotional distress can call 1-800-273-TALK.  Calls made to this 24-hour hotline are routed to the caller’s nearest crisis center.

YouMatter is a National Suicide Prevention Lifeline site for young adults, complete with a blog where visitors can share your problems and get support.

This is a list of resources for both teens and parents to use when the situation calls for it. In addition to the above resources, you might also want to call a mental health professional to support you. However, if you feel that you need immediate assistance, call 911 or your nearest hospital.

Further Reading